Apprentices championed as part of new £35m Craigavon Leisure Centre

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Farrans welcomes up to 20 apprentices to help develop new local construction leaders

Up to 20 apprentices are experiencing first class on-the-job training as part of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council’s stunning new £35 million leisure complex in Craigavon.

On track for completion next year, construction of the new leisure centre is being led by local construction and engineering firm Farrans.

The dedicated programme to provide a new and exciting range of opportunities for young people keen on progressing a career in the construction sector started last year and up to 20 apprentices are being deployed across a range of roles.

Once complete, the leisure centre, which will create 500 construction jobs during its development, will be home to world class facilities including a 50-metre swimming pool, Northern Ireland’s largest gym at over 1,000 square metres, an eight-court sports hall and an extensive outdoor water-sports provision.

Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon, Councillor Mealla Campbell, said:

“Skills development is a key priority in helping to drive, support and grow a successful local economy and we’re delighted that working with Farrans on our largest capital project investment to date, has created so many opportunities for work-based learning and training have been created. Our apprentices are ambassadors for our Council and we’re really proud of the work they do and the contribution they make.”

The innovative build, which is advancing fast and is on course for completion in 2020, will also feature an indoor children’s soft play area and innovative new ‘Pool Pod’ platform lifts, designed to improve pool access for people with disabilities and for those less mobile.

Felim Blaney, Contracts Manager, Farrans Construction, said:

“Our success is built on the skills and talent of our team and we’re keen to drive recruitment numbers across all areas of our business and across the wider sector, producing a motivated ‘talent pipeline’ of keen and motivated people who will be our future leaders.

“Working with Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, we’re delighted to be offering up to 20 people the opportunity to come and work with us to help us create an inspiring destination and a once-in-a-generation opportunity to help positively shape the health and wellbeing of everyone in the locality.

“Apprentices are vitally important for the local and wider economy and for providing on-the-job prospects in real-life scenarios. They also help to build skills and confidence and can help dramatically accelerate careers.”

The construction phase alone is expected to deliver an estimated £6.5 million in direct wages to the economy, and the 500 jobs directly created are in addition to the staff that will run the new leisure facility.

Apprentice engineer and a competitive swimmer at Banbridge Amateur Swimming Club, Kealan McCambridge said his experience working on the new leisure centre was unbeatable.

“When the opportunity arose to move to the leisure centre site, which is also close to home, I was ecstatic. I’ve been able to quickly advance my skill set and improve my knowledge as an engineer for the future. Working on this project has also enabled me to greatly understand the functionality of large-scale buildings, which will aid me in my experience and knowledge as I drive towards finishing my degree in Civil engineering.

“I look forward to the new centre opening in 2020 and I will take great pride in knowing that I contributed to this flagship project. I’m also looking forward to the further opportunities it will continue to bring to the local area for many years to come.”

As part of ABC Council’s commitment to high levels of spend within the local market and small to medium-sized enterprises, it commissioned Farrans Construction through the Scape Procure National Construction – Major Works England and Northern Ireland framework to build the new leisure centre.

Scape’s collaborative ethos involves engaging with approved local businesses, sub-contractors and suppliers, ensuring that the Craigavon project will provide significant employment opportunities for local residents and businesses.